Legal hitch delays Jarvis showdown: Technicality leaves shareholders nursing their complaints against chairman

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A SIMMERING row between the chairman of Jarvis, the property and construction group, and one of the company's shareholders turned to farce yesterday.

Investors, who had turned up for what was expected to be a stormy annual meeting, were turned away after it was cancelled at the last minute on a technicality.

Jarvis said the abandonment of the meeting was unconnected with a letter to shareholders earlier this month from Martin Moir, the veteran dissident shareholder, calling for the removal of Harvey Bard, the chairman.

Shareholders, including Mr Moir, were read a statement by a non-executive director informing them that the meeting had been cancelled because insufficient notice of it had been given. Mr Bard, although present, made no contribution and was later said to be at home suffering from flu.

Companies are required to give 21 days' notice of the annual meeting, but Jarvis said it had only provided 20. Its lawyers, Nabarro Nathanson, confirmed that it would be illegal to hold the meeting.

It will now be rescheduled, giving Jarvis a further four to five weeks to prepare for an expected attack from Mr Moir on its recent record and its relationship with Mr Bard's private interests.

Jarvis also issued a statement to the Stock Exchange yesterday questioning Mr Moir's claim to be a long-standing shareholder. It said that as far as it was aware, Mr Moir was not a shareholder at the time of a rights issue held last year.

Mr Moir is understood to have won the support of 20 per cent of the shareholders. They are not thought to include Lord Hanson, whom Mr Moir asked to intervene.

The shares closed at 8.75p, having fallen from 25p since April.